February 23, 2017

Simple Lined Drawstring Bag Pattern and Tutorial ~ Perfect for OCC Pencil Pouch or Hygiene Supplies

We use a lot of handmade drawstring bags in our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes and I am always looking for an easier way to sew them so I can go faster and make more (especially since I need to make them for our own shoeboxes and the kids' packing party at church).  This is my newest version:  a lined drawstring pouch just the right size for pencils and other small school supplies or to hold the hygiene supplies we include (soap, washcloth, toothbrush, comb, etc.).  I've decided to share my Simple Drawstring Bag Pattern and Tutorial here in case anyone else is interested in making some.

Fits perfectly in an OCC GO Box.
What I like about this pattern is it is quick to make (I can make one in about 20 minutes, faster if doing it production line style) and with it being lined it is sturdier and the raw edges do not need to be finished because they are enclosed.  I try to make my shoebox gifts extra sturdy as the child may never have another one and may use it for years.

February 18, 2017

Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 2/18/2017

I managed to majorly add to my soap stockpile this week-both by some great deals (details on the soap deals/shopping trip here) and a couple hotel bars I found in some luggage.


My sister crocheted some hats from our yarn stash and my mom sewed some bags from some fabric scraps we had lying around, some pencil sized, some larger.  You can see instructions for similar ones on our DIY craft page:

We also had this hair clip we'd bought in a multi-pack we bought, but didn't want this color...so SHOEBOXES!


Spent from shoebox packing budget: $2.16

Spent from gift cards earned or won online: $0

Added to stockpile:
  • 24 bars of soap
  • 6 hats
  • 4 bags 
  • 1 hair-clip 

Happy Packing!

February 15, 2017

Soap deals-week of February 12, 2017

I got some GREAT deals on Bar soap this week and wanted to share!

I got 12 bars of Dial at Dollar Tree for $1 before tax-less than 10 cents a bar!!!  They have this kind of Dial as three packs (at my store they had other kinds, but this was the only 3 bar packs):


And there is currently this printable coupon.  You should be able to print 2 and Dollar Tree allows 2 printable coupons per household per day:
$1.50 off any 2 Dial or Tone

Since the above coupon has reached each print limit, I thought I'd share this coupon as well, it's not as good of a deal-but pretty good deal itself.
$1.00/2 Dial Foaming Hand Wash, Liquid Hand Soap Refills, Bar Soap (3-Bar Soap Or Larger), Advanced Bar (2-Bar Soap Or Larger) (Excludes Trial/Travel Size; Limit of 2 Identical Coupons in Same Shopping Trip; No Cash Back; DND) - RP 02-12-17, exp. 03/04/17

Also, at CVS I got 12 bars of Dial and Irish Spring for a net of 50 cents + plus tax after coupons, ECBs, and Saving Star.  I did a post on my other blog of all the details and you can check that out here:



Hope this helps someone else save on bar soap, too!

February 14, 2017

Family packing party 2016

I know this is a little late for last year, but I finally got time to type it up, so I thought I'd share in case it helps others in planning smaller packing parties.  We are 4-5 adults who pack about 50 boxes on a Saturday. We are all knowledgeable about shoeboxes, and try to fit as much in our boxes as possible and make them personal.  So, rather than have a tightly set list and controlled number of items, and all choose what we want to/can put in.  You can see various other ways we've done packing parties for various groups over the years here.

In the past I've tried to pre-pack the pencil packs, and set out with each age group the right number of other items with each age groups' packing area, but this year I didn't have time to do that so I just laid it out all out together.  This side was art supplies.


This side  was the more school supplies.  It worked out great-everyone could pick exactly what they wanted for each box.


This was  our tote bags and pencil cases


Tins and assorted containers


Some of they hygiene items: various washcloths and hand-towels for the packers to pick from, toothbrushes in cases, nail files for those who want to add the, various combs.


A box of bars of ivory soap in zippered sealed plastic bags was on top of the green tub, but they weren't here when I took the photo.  And some snack containers I bought to use as soap dishes.


We laid the stuffed animals out on this shelf we had open at the moment.  It was fun and helpful to be able to see them all at once.  We kind of sorted by size, type, etc.  We've picked them up over a few years though donations, deals, etc.  Always fun to be able to pick just the right new "friend" for the box.  This post shares Why we pack Stuffed Animals in all our Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes


These were "bonus" items, flashlights, musical toys, etc.  That anyone could get if there was room in their box.


This was my 10-14 girl box packing station-shoeboxes on top, items to go in the boxes on the bottom.  I like to half-pack all the shoeboxes at once, like take my sewing kits and put one in each box, then my games one in each box, etc.   As opposed to taking one shoebox, going down the line, filling it up, then repeating. That way I can very the sizes of the items-if there's a big toy, maybe I'll put in a small game, and can also work to match colors better I feel.  I then finish each boxes separately. Also off to the side I had some bonus things like jewelry.


This was the 2-4 boys table, the boxes in the back had toys and small bonus items, and you can see the balls and dishes.


Finally, I tried to put one of these at each work station.  Scissors for anything we hadn't gotten taken out of packaging; tape in case wrapping paper needed helped or something needed attached; rubber-bands for bundling or boxes, sticky notes & pen in case we didn't have enough of anything, notes could be put on the boxes, and we could add it later, and bags in case anything needed bagged.

Happy Packing!

February 11, 2017

Shoebox Stockpile Saturday ~ 2/11/2017

I had a great visit to Mighty Dollar this week...found Valentines packs in a BOGO cart-worked out to 32 pencils for $1!!!  Then I found a 20 pack of pencils I thought I'd try (I'm hoping to do a pencil test soon like our crayon test), some fishing bobbers/floats for fishing kits, a "Lego" type kit for a dinosaur theme box I hope to do.  Finally, when I was about to leave I saw the toothbrushes in someone's cart and realized I'd forgot to look, so I went and got some of them...you can see my review of them here.


I also found this game I was going to possibly send in a care package to a family member in the armed services, but his tour is up, and I never sent it, so now it'll go to shoebox packing...


I also received my free sample of Poise I saw on Shoeboxes on a Shoestring on Facebook, which I mainly wanted for this cute case for shoeboxes.  Not quite long enough to put more than a couple pencils in, but it'll be cute for something and the only place it says "Poise" is embossed on the zipper pull.



Spent from shoebox packing budget: $18.15

Spent from gift cards earned or won online: $0

Added to stockpile:
  • 180 pencils
  • 80 toothbrushes
  • 20 bobbers for fising kits
  • 1 Lego type kit
  • 1 Peg game
  • 1 zippered case



Shoebox Stockpile Saturday, Year Round Deal Shopping, Crafting for Shoe Boxes, OCC shoeboxes  year round,  Happy Packing!

February 8, 2017

NEW SIGHT toothbrush review

One thing we always like to include in our Operation Christmas Child shoeboxes is hygiene supplies-like a bar of soap, washcloth, comb, & toothbrush.  Sometimes toothbrushes can be a bit hard to find at a good price.  Just walking into a drug store could result in spending $2-$5.  Those would be very nice, but a bit expensive without coupons/deals, when I can sometimes get them free (see my blog Simply CVS if you want to know more about that).  Often you can find toothbrushes in multi-packs at dollar stores or bulk online, but I'm often concerned what the quality is, and how long they'll last as they may be the only one the child has for some time.  A couple years recently we've found 10 packs of toothbrushes at Mighty Dollar for $1, so a dime each-great deal!  The first time we picked up a few as we needed them and opened one and gave the bristles a good tug and it seemed pretty good.  We found them again recently and I decided we should really test them to be able to make a wise decision going forward.

My sister agreed to try one (I tend to be tough on my toothbrushes, so she seemed a better choice).  She said the first couple times she used it a bristle fell out, but then that stopped, so they must just have never been attached.  She said it might not be exactly what she'd choose, but it worked fine.  She ended up using it for a month, and she brushes her teeth a few times a day, so it was probably used at least 100 times!  You can see how it held up in this photo.  She could have kept using it.


So, personally I think they are just fine.  Not the best, but a good option for the price.  The child can use it for quite a while, and with the savings you can put in another item, or if you do a lot of boxes, reach another child.  Personally I'll use them in my boxes if I don't get good deals on name brand ones, or maybe even include 2 per box considering the price. Now, they may not have as tight of quality control, so they may not always be exactly the same, but a test does at least give an idea of the quality/what to expect.

Happy Packing!
Disclosure: Links on Simply Shoe Boxes may be affiliate partners or referrals.
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